It has been an up-and-down couple of years for LGBT Americans. In 2009, several states, including Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, and Iowa, voted on and legalized same-sex marriage, Additionally, several states, including Hawaii, Colorado, Washington, Nevada, and Wisconsin, introduced civil union protections for same-sex couples that include medical decisions and tax benefits. However, also in 2009, an eleven-year-old boy was bullied into suicide in April, Proposition 8 was upheld by a 6-1 vote by the California Supreme Court, Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons vetoed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage and Maine voted to repeal the recently passed law legalizing same-sex marriage.
This year was no different. In 2010, an Arkansas circuit court mandated that same-sex couples cannot be discriminated against in adoption cases, marriage licenses were issued in Washington DC, controversial sections of the Defense of Marriage act were ruled unconstitutional, DADT was struck down by District Court Judge Virginia Phillips, same-sex adoption was legalized in New York, and Proposition 8 wasruled unconstitutional by the district court.
But also in 2010, New Jersey Supreme Court refuses to hear the case of six complaints over discrepancies in the civil union law, an Arkansas School Board member named Clint McCance is found to be encouraging LGBT students to commit suicide, the ruling of Judge Phillips on DADT is appealed and the injunction lifted, and Senator John McCain asserts publicly that DADT should not be repealed.
Also this year, in September, six young men committed suicide over tremendous bullying, sometimes violent, that they had to endure over their sexual orientation. Notably amongst these suicides was an accomplished violinist, Tyler Clementi, who jumped off a bridge to his death after a video of him with another man was released on YouTube. A study released that same month by the advocacy group Campus Pride revealed that approximately 25% of all LGBT youth and faculty of American education institutions endure harassment by their peers for their lifestyle. And today, it was announced on Science Daily that, according to a study conducted by researchers at Yale University and set to be published in January of 2011, LGBT youth are 40% more likely to receive punitive action than the complementary misbehavior of their straight counterparts. The study was careful to point out that there was no discrepancy in the measure of misbehavior, only in the exacted punishment.
While great strides have been taken in the legal system to combat LGBT discrimination, there still appears to be a sentiment of prejudice amongst Americans today. Whether it be at the hands of secular considerations surrounding marriage or the military, or religious assertions that homosexuality is a sin, the common conception is almost always that LGBT people are inherently different, and the gulf between understanding has not been shrinking at a satisfactory rate.